Free Custom «Historical and Current Topics in Human Resources» Essay Sample

Free Custom «Historical and Current Topics in Human Resources» Essay Sample

The performance of every company depends on the productivity of employees and their contribution to the achievement of long-term business goals. Human resources departments continuously work on a job analysis, recruitment and selection, motivation and compensation, and an evaluation of employees’ performance. The contemporary concepts of human resource practice have a vivid historical background, which has contributed to the evolution of tools and techniques popular among companies, since every contemporary HRM method involves the use of elements from theories of the previous centuries.

Job Analysis

Human resource management (HRM) is a complex field, which aims to evaluate employees’ activity from different perspectives showing the way towards increasing productivity and improving the quality of products and services. A job analysis has a long history dating back to 1115 B.C., when the Imperial Court of China made first attempts to define job responsibilities and conduct an effective job analysis (Coyle-Shapiro et al., 2013). The history offers examples of more constructive and grounded research by Munsterberg and Unrbrock at the beginning of the twentieth century, when it became necessary to identify job requirements in order to work on the effective recruitment and selection of personnel (Coyle-Shapiro et al., 2013). Active research of job analysis started in the middle of the twentieth century. In 1942, the U.S. Department of Labor started initiating a job analysis among employers in order to foster the development of businesses by issuing Guide for Analyzing Jobs (Richman, 2015). Later in 1965, the U.S. government approved the issue of Dictionary of Occupational Titles, which became a primitive version of O*Net, a massive system of occupational classification (Richman, 2015). Regardless of numerous systems in Europe and North America, O*Net remains one of the most supportive and informative online sources of job analysis. It is a result of multiple contributions of researchers to the field of human resource management. In addition, companies use such job analysis techniques as physical ability, position, and behavior-focused analyses, which outline applicant’s readiness and appropriateness to the selected job position. As a result, companies define the main requirements of the job and use their chance to evaluate candidate’s ability to fit the workplace environment.


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Recruitment and Selection Process

The history of the recruitment and selection process does not have as much monumental events as a job analysis does, but has a myriad of tools, which managers have successfully incorporated referring to the latter. The recruitment and selection of personnel became an outlining part of human resources management in conjunction with a job analysis, which set requirements for candidates, defined roles of employees, and allowed fitting applicants to specific job positions according to their skills and qualifications (Gajda, 2015). In World War I, the U.S. Army actively practiced IQ tests, which allowed allocating recruits to specific areas according to their natural abilities (Coyle-Shapiro et al., 2013). As a result, IQ testing became popular and effective enough to encourage companies using it even in contemporary HRM practices. Nevertheless, the current situation around the recruitment and selection process is different, since firms prefer using behavioral interviews to define the most suitable candidates according to their natural abilities to respond to the surrounding environment (Gowan, 2014). Active integration of equal opportunities for all applicants, regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, became the main achievement of HRM practices. In addition, the contemporary system of recruitment and selection offers a broad range of tools, which can assure the employer of the appropriateness of the candidate to the selected job position (Ryan & Derous, 2016). For example, companies actively use application blanks, preliminary and employment interviews, written tests, and appointment letters to ensure that an applicant meets job requirements and will fulfill work-related roles. Based on the effectiveness of the recruitment and selection process, a company can design a sufficient system of compensation and motivation, which has also gone through various developmental stages.

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Compensation and Motivation

The history of management cannot neglect the importance of compensation and motivation, which started their development in ancient times when slave owners used to motivate slaves by compensating their hard work with food. Fortunately, the contemporary situation with motivation is different, since society has gone through complex stages of evolution. Active research on the importance of compensation and motivation started at the beginning of the twentieth century, when Sigmund Freud designed a psychoanalytic theory (Coyle-Shapiro et al., 2013). It became the start of investigating the triggers of productive performance among employees and their reaction to various types of motivation, including rewards and promotions. As a result, the twentieth century brought a myriad of motivational theories, which enhanced understanding of employees’ needs and ways of satisfying them. At that time, Abraham Maslow developed a pyramid, classifying employee’s needs. Clayton Alderfer also contributed to the field of motivation and compensation by introducing the ERG theory consisting of existence, relatedness, and growth (Shiekhah, Sarhan, Abbad, & Istaiteyeh, 2015). In general, all theories of the twentieth century characterize work environment, explain in what way it influences employees, and satisfies the diversity of their needs. Nowadays, all motivation and compensation systems focus on the workplace environment, skills of employees, and their needs. As a result, twentieth-century theories still play a major role in shaping contemporary methods of motivation and compensation. Current companies prefer compensating their employees with extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, which go far beyond compensating slaves with food. Extrinsic rewards include bonuses, salary raises, gifts, and promotion, while intrinsic ones allow compensating employees with information, recognition, and empowerment. However, motivation and compensation cannot be effective without performance evaluation, which is another outlining part of the HRM system. 

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Performance Review and Performance Evaluation Techniques

Employees have started to recognize the importance of a performance review and evaluation at the end of the eighteenth century, when Adam Smith wrote a book titled The Wealth of Nations, which introduced the beneficial influence of the division of labor on company’s productivity (Coyle-Shapiro et al., 2013). It became clear that employees had different specializations according to their skills and knowledge, which should have a major effect on the division of labor and assignment of tasks. Frederick Taylor supported the ideas of Adam Smith and introduced new concepts, including work measurement, work design, and production control, which became the core of industrial revolution and technological progress. In the middle of the twentieth century, the U.S. government issued the Performance Rating Act, Incentive Awards Act, and the Salary Perform Act, which defined satisfied and unsatisfied employees, recognized their accomplishments, and determined criteria of high-quality performance (Ntanos & Boulouta, 2012). Nowadays, contemporary companies try to reduce the usage of performance review techniques in order to decrease stress among employees, believing that such method is not effective. Recognition and feedback are the most popular techniques, which inform employees of their performance and show the way towards improvement.

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After reviewing the historical background of various HRM tools and techniques, it is obvious that society has managed to understand the importance of human needs in the establishment of an effective workplace. A job analysis, recruitment and selection, compensation and motivation, and performance review techniques belong to a single system of HRM, which cannot exist without one of the aforementioned elements. The history showed the flow of managerial thought, which brought all HRM methods in a system. As a result, contemporary HRM uses a combination of improved techniques along with transformed tools fitting the requirements of the digital and technological revolution.

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